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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Wisconsin makes right call with discipline issues

On Saturday afternoon, junior wide receiver Maurice Moore had one kickoff return for three yards against Indiana, which could have been more if not for an illegal block in the back committed on Moore's return.

By early Sunday morning, Moore was in custody for drunk driving after crashing his car on Regent Street. And when Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema addressed the media Monday afternoon it became clear Moore's performance against Indiana could have been his last.

This is not the first time Moore has run into discipline issues while at Wisconsin, as he was suspended for the Champs Sports Bowl last year. Given his earlier problems, Bielema said the team will give Moore academic support, but indicated the wide receiver's career as a Badger could be over.

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""At different times, he and I have had discussions,"" Bielema said. ""I made him very aware that every day was going to be monitored from here on out, and obviously after Saturday's incident, he's indefinitely suspended. He won't be with us.""

Although it is frustrating to see Wisconsin lose another player, the Athletic Department's attitude toward rule violations, especially in the face of recent actions by student-athletes, is admirable. In the past few months, UW student-athletes have been involved in a number of incidents, which have gone swiftly and properly punished.

When freshman basketball players Diamond Taylor and Jeremy Glover were arrested and accused of stealing money and items from dorm rooms in Sellery Hall, the two were immediately suspended from the team and kicked out of the university.

Senior safeties Aubrey Pleasant and Shane Carter were both suspended indefinitely earlier this year, and though the reason for their suspensions was never made clear (something that angered the players' families), we must assume there was a serious violation. Granted, the Athletic Department's stranglehold on information might have made things worse for the team, but two solid players have been suspended indefinitely since August—something was clearly wrong.

Unlike schools that let minor and, at times, major discipline violations slide, the Wisconsin Athletic Department has come down hard on players who flout the rules. I don't want to sound like I'm worshipping at the altar of Barry Alvarez and think everything he does is genius—I've already outlined one issue where I think the Department needs to improve—but we should appreciate the harsh and fair standards of discipline at Wisconsin.

But even the best punishment threats still require preventive action, and that is the next step in making better student-athletes. It's one thing to properly discipline those who break the rules, but educating athletes on how to make the right choices means punishment never becomes an issue in the first place.

Sure, Diamond Taylor and Jordan Glover probably knew burglary was a bad idea before they came to Wisconsin. But if their coaches had made it clear to them that it would get them kicked off the team and out of school, would they still have broken into Sellery Hall as police say they did?

Bielema said he told Moore he would be monitored, but if he made it clear that Moore's next slip up would be his last, would Moore have driven drunk Sunday morning?

This is not to say Bo Ryan, Bret Bielema or their coaching staffs are in any way responsible for Glover, Taylor and Moore's alleged actions. But if the Athletic Department puts more emphasis on student-athlete responsibility with incoming freshmen and returning players, maybe it can keep incidents like those from happening again.

In the past couple of years, the NFL has had a number of problems with its players being involved in major scandals, most notably Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Donte Stallworth and Adam ""Pacman"" Jones. That's why the most recent class of new players had to take part in a ""Rookie Symposium"" during the offseason, where they learned how to avoid making the poor decisions that got those infamous players thrown in jail.

Yes, the Wisconsin Athletic Department does a great job disciplining its players when they mess up. But if it took steps similar to the NFL's, perhaps we would see fewer players engaging in the risky, and at times downright stupid, behaviors that can earn them prison time and a one-way ticket out of Madison.

Does Wisconsin's Athletic Department do enough to discipline its players? E-mail Nico at savidgewilki@dailycardinal.com.

 

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